Record numbers for AFL Brisbane Juniors

By Byron Parish

The AFL Brisbane Juniors has listed record registration numbers in 2015, as players from across Brisbane gear up for another action-packed footy season.

After amassing over 7000 participants across all grades in 2014, early signs suggest the AFLBJ’s   are on track to surpass the 7,200 target set for 2015.

The number of clubs has risen to 43, with the inclusion of the Limestone Eagles from Ipswich who have entered Under-6 and Under -8 teams.

Female football has shown the biggest growth, with club numbers up eight to 21, representing a staggering 260% jump on 2014.

With another six clubs yet to confirm their involvement for this season, female youth football in the Brisbane region continues to go from strength to strength.

This season will feature a brand new Under-13 youth girls competition to complement the incumbent Under-15’s and revamped Under-17’s season.

Changes to the boys’ competitions allow players to compete in their own age groups from Under-12 to Under-17, meaning participants will no longer have to compete against kids older than them.

This change will allow teammates to stay together as they move through age groups, allowing clubs to nominate teams in the right age group instead of asking kids to play up an age.

AFL Brisbane Juniors General Manager Cherie Brockwell said the inclusion of extra age groups would increase the quality of competition while making it a fairer playing ground for all participants.

“[It’s important] just to have an offer, so that all clubs have that opportunity to really nominate where their club numbers fit, so there is an age group for everybody, so kids don’t have to jump two age groups and play against kids potentially older than them, she said.

“We have clubs that are actually putting youth girl’s teams that have never even considered having girls at their club before.”

Brockwell says the introduction of the Under-6 competition helps bridge the gap between NAB AFL Auskick and the traditional Under-8 format, allowing exposure to football from a younger age.

“In Queensland, we recognized that we needed to offer our 5 and 6 year olds an opportunity to play junior AFL, so the Under-6 competition was created and has been a major success,” she said.

Social Media awareness programs have been delivered to club presidents to ensure all players, members and volunteers are aware of their ownership to their club brand and act as role models for their community.

“Not only do we want to put on good quality competitions, we also want to make our kids, and our volunteer’s really good role models for the community, said Brockwell.

“Our focus is good quality football on the weekends, but our other focus is making sure our volunteers are well informed, [and have] got the resources that they need and we’re educating them.”

The support of the Brisbane Lions and McDonalds has enhanced the quality of each club, receiving donations and resources from both organisations to put towards improving facilities and equipment for an enriched junior football experience.

McDonald’s are entering their sixth year of sponsorship of the AFL Brisbane Juniors, providing resources and funding to clubs giving kids a better chance to try AFL football.

The Brisbane Lions provide discounted memberships and free tickets to AFL Brisbane Junior members, allowing kids access to the top level of football in Australia, while also donating a signed football to each club.

The donation of the signed football is a terrific initiative that allows clubs to use the ball as a prize for raffles and other fundraisers, which ultimately gives much needed money to local football clubs.

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